18 June 2024

As a payroll professional, you may be the target of malicious attacks due to the sensitive data and access you have.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has asked us to provide the below update on agents and malicious software to assist in keeping you safe and being ware of potential breaches. However, this advice is relevant to all those working with key payroll data.

Staying alert to malicious software

Agents are frequently targeted by criminals who attempt to trick them into downloading malicious software (or malware) onto their devices. This software can give fraudsters access to Agent tax accounts and, in some cases, the personal details of clients. If malware is not completely removed, even after a password change or even the creation of a completely new account, the criminals still retain access. 

If we suspect that an agent has inadvertently acquired malware on one or more of the devices they use for their work, and that this has resulted in client data being compromised, we take immediate action to suspend the account.  

If we suspend an agents account due to suspected malware, we write to the agent to advise them on the steps they need to take. This includes securing all affected devices before contacting HMRC’s Online Service Helpdesk to initiate the process of un-suspending their account.  

Agents should regularly ensure that any software they use is up-to-date, check their antivirus protection is switched on and is up-to-date, and avoid clicking links or downloading attachments in suspicious or unexpected emails. 

Nobody is immune from fraud. Criminals are great pretenders and will take any opportunity to steal information from customers and use this to access our systems. Before sharing personal or financial details, we always urge customers to visit HMRC phishing and scams GOV.UK to check the sender or caller is genuine. 

To help fight these crimes, forward suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC to 60599 and emails to [email protected]. Report tax scam phone calls to us on GOV.UK. You can find more information on cyber security at National Cyber Security Centre: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/"

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